by Jeff Skinner
Back in May when Cheyenne Woods accepted an invitation to play in The Wegman’s LPGA we offered some words of caution. Do you follow Tiger’s example or Michelle Wie’s?
The name “Woods” carries a lot of weight in the world of golf. It is said that Tiger Woods is the most recognized athlete in the world and that he is the driving force on the PGA Tour. That may be the case but the name Woods seems to be helping out another golfer named Woods, Tiger’s niece, Cheyenne Woods. Ms. Woods was offered and accepted a sponsor’s exemption into the Wegmans LPGA. Cheyenne is an up and coming freshman at Wake Forest University. She is a very good player, but not a great player, yet. She may grow and mature into the next Annika, but for now she is a freshman in college and not even the best golfer on her team. The Wake Forest team has at least three or four players on the team with better records this year. There are dozens and dozens of female college golfers that have had more distinguished seasons than her, but her last name is a calling card that few can match.
I understand the need for tournaments to sell tickets and to get publicity for the tournament in order for it to be a success. We see it with John Daly on the PGA Tour (before his suspension) and the European tour. We have seen it for years with Michelle Wie, who not only was getting exemptions into LPGA events, but she was getting them for men’s PGA events. It was not until this year that Michelle earned her tour card through Q-School. She had been in so many tournaments the past years it appeared that she was a full member of the tour. Tournaments are about making money: money for the players, money for the charities and money for the tour. However, is someone going to buy a ticket to see Cheyenne Woods at this stage? I’m not so sure. What I am sure of is this. Someone in the “Woods” camp should take some time to consider where and when Cheyenne plays outside of college. Michelle Wie started playing in tournaments way above her skill level at a young age. She has struggled on the LPGA Tour and has suffered in the men’s tournament she played in. She has yet to recover from a career that has more ups and downs than Augusta National.
Cheyenne has said that Earl Woods was an influence in her life and that Tiger has helped her out on her game. Take a lesson from the master, and I don’t mean Tiger. I mean Earl. He had Tiger compete at all levels of golf. He stayed at that level until he dominated it and then he moved up to play with older and more experienced golfers. Earl never let him get in over his head where he would be overwhelmed and therefore discouraged. Michelle Wie was not so lucky. She moved into tougher levels of golf so quickly that she was never given the chance to be a dominating champion and it has hindered her career. She may very well overcome it this year but it has been a struggle. That happens when huge expectations are placed upon a person.
Cheyenne Woods seems like a mature, composed, polite young lady. Her golf career is all ahead of her now. She is at a great school and has a strong support system I am sure. She should take great care in deciding which tournaments outside of college to compete in. It may seem like the fun thing to do now, but beware. Whose path would you rather follow: Michelle Wie or Uncle Tiger?